Go For The Gold

Kevin PearceThe Olympics are packed with hopefuls, and I love to hear their stories of overcoming obstacles while pushing the boundaries in pursuit of their dreams. The passion for their sport and years of dedication to training is motivating. A week before the Olympics started, I watched a documentary, The Crash Reel, which gave me a new perspective on the snowboarding events.

Do you remember the snowboarder Kevin Pearce?  He expected to be the gold medal contender for the United States in the men’s halfpipe in the 2010 Winter Olympics. On December 31, 2009, he was critically injured in Park City, Utah, during a training run. He struck his head above the left eye halfway down the pipe doing a double cork. He was flown to the University of Utah Hospital and was in critical care for nearly a month, shattering his dreams for the gold in Vancouver, Canada.

Shaun White won the gold that year, while Kevin was immersed in the hardest, most meaningful training of his life. Once stabilized enough to move, Kevin was taken to Craig Hospital, a center which specializes in traumatic brain injuries located in Denver, Colorado. For the next four months he worked harder and focused entirely on relearning to do the simple tasks of daily living before he could move back home with his family in Vermont.

Kevin Crash ReelThe Crash Reel, recounts the ambitious rise of Kevin and the support of an extraordinary family confronted with a devastating injury. Kevin is the youngest of Simon and Pia Pearce’s four sons. His brothers, Andrew and Adam are also snowboarders. David, who has Down syndrome, snow skis in the Special Olympics. Their story is inspiring as they come together to help Kevin re-discover himself and find purpose and meaning in the snowboarders lost dreams. I appreciated this family for allowing the cameras in his hospital room and in their home to share the intimate details of the recovery process. The documentary captures vulnerable moments as Kevin reconciles his new life post-injury with the snowboarding superstar he was before.

In 2008, Kevin was the first athlete in X Games history to compete in three medal events in one day and he won medals in all three in Aspen, Colorado. Even as a young child he was entirely focused on snowboarding and he couldn’t imagine life without it. After the accident, he was determined to ride on the snow again. His family and doctors tried to discourage him from doing so. Because of his short-term memory problem, it was a constant battle. Kevin states now that the brain injury was hard for him to understand because he couldn’t see it, nor did he have any memory of the tough recovery. When Kevin reviewed the recordings of his accident, he said he’d had worse falls and came out okay, so he couldn’t understand the concern. The neurologist told him he had several concussions leading up to the one that caused a coma, and one more blow to his head could cause death. While most wouldn’t be willing to share such a difficult experience on film, this family didn’t shy away from the opportunity.

kevin-pearce-2 years post TBIKevin resolved to push the limits and return to what he called his “true love.” Almost two years after the accident he strapped on his board and took his first ride with his friends and two brothers by his side. The movement made his vision double. He lacked the coordination for even a small jumped. In many ways, he said, he didn’t feel like himself on a snowboard.

Kevin finds comfort in a quote from Eckhart Tolle, “What could be more futile, more insane, than creating inner resistance to something that already is?”

Likewise, Kevin said, “This brain injury is. This happened to me, so creating inner resistance to this is completely insane because I cannot take it back. I cannot change what happened to me and I never will be able to change December 31, 2009. That day happened.”

Kevin love your brain

Kevin has a new passion now, Love Your Brain Foundation. It was born from the documentary, The Crash Reel. His mission is to educate about concussions and other types of brain injuries, along with transforming physical and emotional well-being through yoga, and building a community through brain health experiences. It’s apparent to me that while Kevin’s life is different now, somethings haven’t changed. Kevin’s still determined and focused. He still gives his all to his passion and never settles for average. Check out the website, it’s impressive. http://www.loveyourbrain.com/

Kevin may not have a gold medal from any Winter Olympics hanging in his trophy case, but his comeback story is real and relatable to all kinds of survivors and caregivers. It’s been a tough journey, but he has found peace and acceptance with his new life, which I believe makes him a first place winner.

I admired the Olympic candidates. Their determination and perseverance for their beloved sport are inspiring. The opening ceremony was enthusiastic, filled with anticipation for the games to begin. The closing ceremony was pleasurable with a flicker of melancholy. The stories of triumphs in between were most rewarding and why I loved to watch the participants. When the flame was extinguished, it felt like the end of an epic holiday. The sadness comes from knowing it will be a while before we’re going to enjoy that kind of excitement and inspiration again. However, their lives and ours go on. Day by day we each have a deep sense of purpose, along with struggles to overcome for advancement. My take away from this year’s Olympians and Kevin Pearce’s story is, embrace where life takes me, while striving to do, and be the best I can. We should all go for the gold, even when life changes our dreams.

Thanks Pyeongchang for being a great host to the world. I wish the love and unity could last forever!




February 2018 Newsletter

Feb. HeartsA splendid way to communicate love is by sharing your time and heartfelt care with others. Understanding one another is easiest when you share similar circumstances. Since I’m a caregiver to a brain injury survivor who also has epilepsy, I’ve gathered information on this month’s support groups and therapy services offered in the Salt Lake Valley for those affected by these two health issues. If you live outside of this region, or are affected by another kind of condition, I encourage you to look for support groups near you. Fill your heart with friends who understand your situation and share the love by encouraging and learning from one another. Every life that you touch is a reward for yourself.

In case it’s impossible for you to get out, or you don’t live in this area, I’ve also included links to useful and inspiring websites.

If you have an activity, announcements or other information you’d like shared in this newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com


February 13, 2018 – Brain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults, 6-8 p.m. Meets every 2nd Tuesday monthly at Sanderson Community Deaf Center, 5709 South 1500 West, SLC, UT 84123. This social group is for all caregivers and survivors. All are welcomed to share a main dish together and a craft.  Bring a side dish or dessert to share if you’d like. Call Jennifer (801) 386-2195, or Beth (801) 585-5511 for more information.

February 15, 2018 – IMC Caregivers and Survivors Education Groups, 7-8 p.m. Meets every 3rd Thursday monthly at IMC Cottonwood Medical Tower (TOSH Campus) 181 E. Medical Tower Drive, Murray, Utah. Caregivers meet on the 1st floor conference room and the Survivors meet on the 2nd floor conference room.

Caregivers topic: Caregivers Resources – by Kathy Nelson, Utah State Representative. She will share with us resources available through the State.

Survivors topic: Finding Your Voice – by Natalie Caldwell, MS, CCC-SLP. She will give ways for helping others understand your injury.

February 27, 2018 – University of Utah Brain Injury Support Group 7-8 p.m. Meets every 4th Tuesday monthly at Sugarhouse Health Center, 1138 E. Wilmington Avenue, SLC, UT 84106. This month’s topic: Trails Adaptive Sports & Recreation by Tanja Kari. Come learn what options are available. Please call Ryan Pello at (801) 581-2221 for questions.


Aphasia Talking Practice Group – Meets every Tuesday, Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Meditation Group – Meets every Wednesday, 3 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East Cafeteria Conference Room

Parkinson’s Talking Loud Group – Meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month-3:00pm at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Cognitive Skills Group – Meets every Thursday Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Contact: Dr. Russo at antonietta.russo@imail.org


Together we share coping strategies, provide encouragement, comfort and advice from people with common experiences. For more information contact Margo at (801)455-6089 or Utah@efa.org

February 1, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for Parents, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Meets every 1st Thursday of the month at the Riverton Library Auditorium, 12877 S. 1830 W.

February 8, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 2nd Thursday of the month. New 2018 Murray location is at the Doty Education Center – Intermountain Medical Center, 5171 S. Cottonwood St., Bldg. 6, 1st floor – CR2.

newEPILEPSY SUPPORT GROUP in Utah County! It begins on February 15th from 7:00 to 8:15 pm. From March on the meeting will be on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Provo City Library – 555 N. University Ave.

February 21, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the SLC Main Library 200 E. 400 S., SLC, UT (3rd floor conference room).

February 28, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for Teens, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Meets the 4th Wednesday monthly at the West Jordan Library, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT. There are two teachers overseeing this group. Come to enjoy an activity and meet other teens with epilepsy.


http://www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

http://www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

http://www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

http://www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)


http://www.msktc.org/tbi (TBI Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) national leaders in TBI research and patient care.

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

http://www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or http://www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)


https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass (free pass to National Parks & Federal Land Agency areas)

https://wildlife.utah.gov/watchable-wildlife-for-disabled.html (watchable wildlife for disabled persons)

http://slco.org/adaptive/plus-one-pass (Salt Lake County Disability Plus One Pass)

https://twilightinsight.wordpress.com/hobbies/hobbies-for-healing-the-brain/tbi-and-selecting-a-hobby (select a hobby – ideas especially for TBI survivors)

Uniquely abled

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

(wheelchair accessible trails in Utah)

https://www.visitutah.com/Media/Default/One%20Sheeters/Accessible_Utah_web.pdf (list of accessible resources)

wasatchadaptivesports.org (Wasatch Adaptive Sports)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

https://www.meetup.com (meet up groups)


Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)


http://www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

http://www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)

newsletterThank you for reading. I hope you found the information helpful and will follow this website via email to receive notifications of every new post. The “Follow” button is located at the beginning of the newsletter. However, if you want to subscribe only to a monthly newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com. I will add you to the newsletter email list and send you the link monthly.